NEWS

Bahrain accuses of subjecting female political prisoners to sexual and psychological torture

BAHRAIN is accused of subjecting women political prisoners to shocking treatment, including sexual and psychological torture to extract confessions, illegal arrests and sham trials, by a scathing new report released today.

The joint report by the Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy (Bird) and Americans for Democracy and Human Rights in Bahrain said the abuses remain uninvestigated.

The groups warned that oversight bodies trained with funding from the British and US governments are complicit and fail to hold perpetrators accountable.

The director of the Muharraq Security Complex, where two of the women were allegedly tortured, received £16,000 from Britain as part of a “training” grant in 2015.

Ebtisam al-Saegh and Najah Yusuf said they had been sexually assaulted during their interrogation at the complex after refusing to work as informants.

Ms al-Saegh said that her interrogator had boasted of his reputation for inflicting torture and pain on detainees, telling her: “I am called the torturer, my hobby is torture, my profession is to torture. I have the art of torture.”

The alleged torture, rape and assault of two of the women featured in the report at the hands of officers from the powerful National Security Agency (NSA) coincided with the reinstatement of its arrest powers in January 2017.

All nine of the women interviewed for the report said that officials had threatened them and their families with rape or death.

Five of them said they had been physically assaulted with beatings, kicks and punches.

“The torture started from the first moment in the car by masked, armed, civilian-clothed men,” said Medina Ali, one of the women.

“I was blindfolded and tortured with violent beatings aimed at the face and hitting my head against the wall violently,” she said.

Coerced confessions were extracted from at least six of the women during interviews conducted by the Criminal Investigation Directorate or NSA.

Bird spokeswoman Lucilla Berwick warned that Britain and the US “continue to profit from their lucrative relationships with Bahrain, funding training to oversight bodies which facilitate a culture of impunity among state officials that further encourages repression.”

Ms Yusuf said: “This report is crucial to political prisoners and to others who have suffered through the horrendous human rights violations that I and the other women in this report were subjected to.

“We are breaking the silence and speaking out about these violations so that these abuses won’t occur to anyone else.”

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